Once again the Front Range is dealing with extreme vole activity. With the residual snow on lawns, we are noticing a lot more vole trails, please check to see if you are noticing any trails.
Voles are small, mouse-like rodents that exist throughout Colorado. Though commonly called meadow or field mice, their short tails, stocky build, and small eyes distinguish them from true mice. Voles feed on vegetation. Because of this, voles cause problems by damaging lawns, gardens, trees, junipers, and other plants.
Voles are small with adults weighing just an ounce or two. Their overall adult body length varies from about 3.5” to 6” Though voles may differ in size and color; most are dark brown to near black and have very short tails.
The breeding season for voles encompasses most of the year, with peaks occurring in the spring and fall. Most voles have multiple families per year. Some voles have been shown to produce upwards of 10 litters of two to five young in one year. The normal is three to five litters a year.
Voles do the worst and most costly damage during the winter when food supplies are low. This leads them to lawns and evergreens. The chewing at the bases of these plants (especially junipers and other shrubs) can kill them. However, with large populations; damage to wanted plants can continue year round.
Many voles leave characteristic surface trails in lawns and other dense vegetation. These trails consist of close to the ground/root level chewing of vegetation about one to two inches wide. Small holes can often be found at the end of the trails, these holes lead to the nests.
Voles usually damage woody plants during late fall through early spring. Voles may chew woody plants leaving girdled areas. Tiny teeth marks may be visible; the chewing marks are about an eighth of an inch wide and regular in appearance.
Vole treatments, including mouse traps, can help reduce populations, but for a heavily damaged area professional treatment can save thousands of dollars with landscape damage prevention.